'Flagship' head to head: Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro vs OnePlus 6

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In our continuing efforts to provide comparisons for those trying to match up Windows 10 Mobile smartphones to possible Android-running upgrades, here's the latest, with the last sold Windows phone (Wileyfox Pro aside) pitched against the very latest OnePlus 6.

IDOL 4 Pro and OnePlus 6

As usual, I've shaded in green an obvious 'win' for either device, I honestly have no idea which way this one's going to go (as I start to compile the feature)... Any row where a winner would be totally subjective is left uncoloured. Or, where both devices are utterly excellent but in different ways, I've given both a 'green'(!)

  Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro OnePlus 6
Date first available August 2017 May 2018
Current price, availability Currently sold out from the Microsoft online Store in the UK. See your local version for pricing and - maybe - clearance deals. Or get it from Microsoft France or Microsoft Germany and live with the mains adapter? Guide price £250. From £469, SIM-free, inc VAT (up to £569, depending on storage spec)
Dimensions, form factor, weight, design

154 x 75 x 7mm, aluminium frame with glass front and back, 152g

156 x 75 x 8mm, aluminium with glass front and back, 177g, very similar form factor, but quite a bit heavier overall (but then the battery's bigger...)

Durability No specific durability metrics, plus the dual sided glass design means a case is a must. If water gets in then you're pretty much out of luck. Sadly.
Again, no specific durability metrics, though there are apparently some water-resisting measures internally. (You do get a clear TPU case in the box.)
Operating system, interface Windows 10 Mobile (now running Fall Creators Update), (dismissable) virtual controls, for maximum screen real estate.
Android 8.1, with Oxygen UI/skin, virtual controls can be replaced by swipe gestures, for maximum screen real estate and these work well.

Samsung-made 5.5" AMOLED 16:9 1080p panel, Dragontrail Glass, excellent colour balance, contrast and viewing angles.

No 'always on' features. Screen area is approximately 84 cm2

6.28" AMOLED '2 by 1' notched 1080p screen, Gorilla Glass 5, plus factory-fitted plastic screen protector (which you're not supposed to remove), decent screen but it can't quite match the IDOL 4 Pro's contrast and colours overall. Maybe removing the protector would increase contrast,OnePlus?

No 'always on' features. Screen area is larger than the IDOL 4 Pro's, thanks partly to the 'notch', at approximately 98cm2

Connectivity LTE up to 300Mbps (all bands), Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 4.1, Continuum connectivity to use external displays as secondary screen, independent of the phone display. Note that there's no NFC, though there's also no Microsoft contactless payment tech in the platform worldwide yet either, so the omission is moot! LTE, NFC (all uses, including Android Pay), Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 5.0 (all uses). NFC should win the day here, but the IDOL 4 Pro's wired and wireless Continuum compatibility does add a certain levelling factor.
Processor, performance Snapdragon 820 chipset, 4GB RAM (of which only 3.5GB can be used directly), the fastest Windows phone I've tested so far, despite the lack of TLC from Microsoft or Alcatel in terms of tuning. Snapdragon 845 chipset with 6GB or 8GB RAM. Very fast at everything.
Capacity 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD. 64/128/256GB internal storage, no expansion or data insertion by card.
Imaging (stills)

21MP f/2.2 1/2.4" BSI sensor, dual LED flash, HDR shots, PDAF, very decent shots in most light conditions, but capture is relatively slow and it all falls down in really low light, as you'd expect (with no OIS). See my review part 2.

8MP front camera

16MP f/1.7 with OIS, plus 20MP extra sensor (mainly just for portrait effects?), PDAF, LED flash. Camera tests still ongoing, but the more modern sensors ensure better photos overall. A comparison with Lumia 950 photos is coming soon, don't worry, that should be a much closer match.

16MP front camera

Imaging (video) 4K, optionally digitally stabilised, with 'Best photo' 8MP grabbing built-in, plus high amplitude stereo audio recording (though left and right channels are randomly(?) switched in current firmware). See my review part 3. Up to 4K video capture, in theory stabilised but not at all in my tests with the current shipping firmware, stereo audio capture.
Music and Multimedia
Terrific front-facing JBL-branded 3.6W stereo speakers, arguably the best in the current smartphone world - in any ecosystem - if you discount Dolby Atmos and other EQ enhancers.  Fairly low grade mono speaker on the bottom edge.
Music (headphones) 3.5mm headphone jack, truly excellent DAC for audio output (JBL's involvement again?) Plus A2DP over Bluetooth. 3.5mm headphone jack, average DAC built-in. Plus A2DP and AptX HD over Bluetooth
Navigation  Windows 10 Maps is comprehensive, has a degree of live traffic awareness (see the latest workaround), Includes full offline maps with automatic updates (though we haven't had one for a while, summer 2018 is the next scheduled!)

Google Maps is now the gold standard in phone navigation, tied in with many other Google services and offering true real time navigation around traffic issues. Some degree of offline capability, thanks to user-selectable cached areas.

Cortana/Voice Cortana is now mature and well integrated, and with a surprising degree of 'assistance'. Google Assistant is baked in (only via 'OK Google' voice prompt?), and arguably the pick of the current voice aids. But do any of us use them much on our phones?
Battery, life  Sealed 3000mAh battery, plus USB Type C fast charging (up to 2A) and compatibility with Qualcomm's Quickcharge 3.0. Sealed 3300 mAh battery. Charging is OnePlus's provided proprietary 'DashCharge' via the USB Type C port. It's unclear what current this draws from more generic chargers, am guessing 2A.
Cloud aids Windows Photos syncs across all signed-in devices, subject to your OneDrive tariff, should you have thousands of images in the system. Plus Windows 10 backs all your media, application data and settings to a separate backup folder system, tariff-free on OneDrive. Google Photos, once installed, does a great job of organising photos and syncing them across all signed-in phones and tablets. You do lose some quality unless you pay, but this is comparable to the Microsoft tariffs for OneDrive, etc.
Biometrics  The fingerprint sensor is slower than most in the industry, and it's not clear why! Plus the 'Hello' animation takes a second. On the positive side, it's a lot faster than PIN entry or iris recognition. On the (other) negative side, there's no Microsoft Wallet/Pay (even if there was NFC, which there isn't!) So that side of things is a no go. The fingerprint sensor on the back works brilliantly fast, as does the camera-based face unlock. Only the former works with Android Pay.
Applications and ecosystem  Windows 10 Mobile now has just about every mainstream app covered, aside from Snapchat and Tinder. And anything to do with Google services! Most things can be done via Edge, though 'not quite' as slickly as with dedicated applications. The might of Google and Android's app ecosystem - everything is available and almost always in first party form. 
Upgrades and future

Windows 10 Mobile will be updated through 2018 and the whole of 2019, of course, as part of the global Windows 10 ecosystem and the regular patching and fixing process for the 'Fall Creators Update' branch. Production devices can expect updates every month. Would love to give the IDOL 4 Pro the win here on this technicality, but suspect I'd get shouted at!

OnePlus is pretty good with updates, thanks to 'Oxygen OS' being a fairly light skin on top of Android. Stay optimistic.

Back views


Adding up the green 'wins' gives a 5-3 win to the brand new OnePlus flagship, Most functions considered were actually pretty even though - these two phones aren't that far apart overall. Which is a compliment to the Windows 10 device, considering that it's basically a 2016 design and spec at heart. Still, if you're 'upgrading' from Windows 10 Mobile and want something really fast from the Android world without paying through the nose then you could do a lot worse than the OnePlus 6.

Of the IDOL 4 Pro's 'wins' above, the most significant is that for multimedia, with the genuinely incredible speakers, high quality DAC, and great screen, all giving the phone something of a class-leading USP. The IDOL 4 Pro's not a perfect handset, of course - not even close, but it's not bad and I for one am glad that it exists at all. Kind of a 'last hurrah' for Windows 10 Mobile?

PS. Next up from me will be a camera shootout between the OnePlus 6 and the Lumia 950 XL - can the latest Android hardware match up?

PPS. If you do pick the IDOL 4 Pro up then you'll need a case. See my IDOL 4 Pro case round-up here, recently added to.